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Bite-Size Insights 5: What are the engagement drivers of a remote workforce?

Jun 03, 2020 | 00:00

00:00 00:00

Episode Description

As many of us have embraced a flexible work environment many questions have emerged. Specifically, questions around engagement drivers. These drivers provide leaders with insights on how employees feel from their work to the organization itself.

The need to understand engagement drivers is heightened as people are taking on additional stressors. In this episode, you’ll hear from Emplify’s Sam Yoder, Adam Weber, and Michael Vasey highlighting what leaders should be paying the most attention to according to the data.

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Episode Transcription

Nicole [00:00:03] Hey, Insight's listeners, Nicole here. Thanks so much for joining me for this week's Bite Size Insights. Empowering people leaders with best in class information in 10 minutes or less. As many of us have embraced a more flexible work environment, including remote working, a lot of questions have emerged. Specifically, questions around engagement drivers. Now, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term drivers, engagement drivers are the levers that leaders can pull to help foster and improve engagement. They provide the roadmap of what actions to take and how employees feel about the work itself, their coworkers, management and the organization as a whole. Now, as you can imagine, the desire to understand these engagement drivers has been heightened as people are taking on more stressors over the last couple of months. In this episode, you'll hear from our own Sam Yoder, Adam Weber and Michael Vaizey as they highlight the drivers that you should be paying the most attention to. According to our data, one final note before we jump in is that we are giving you access to a back and forth discussion so you'll hear me offering the questions and context for greater insights.

[00:01:15] I just heard someone talk about how to foster autonomy during a time of remote where you obviously don't want to micromanage your team, but you want to keep an eye on what they're doing. And so they came up with a framework of three questions that you should ask yourself. Question one is, is whatever your your idea or the initiative or the thing that you want to do? Is it the right thing for our customers? Is it the right thing for our business? And our purpose and our core values. And are you willing to be held accountable for this decision, whatever the consequences are? And if the answer is yes, then you don't need to tell me about it. You should go do it. And 20 percent of the time, they might make their own decision. And that's great for in the moment coaching. But 80 percent of the time, you're going to get better ideas than the executive team, than the boardroom. And that's what you're really going to get that innovation because you're elevating the people that are closest to the work. And so with that couple of great questions. But the first one is when we're working remote, people can feel underutilized and looking for ways to identify them. And that feeling and then engage them more. And so what it is, they're a tool that you can use or their ideas around kind of monitoring that productivity and that utilization. Michael and Sam, can you kick us off of that one?

[00:02:34] To increase utilization during this time? I think a lot of it is on the manager initiating really good questions. My question is, if you were in charge, what's the first thing you'd do to improve our business right now? So we're trying to eliminate, voiced and give given permission to innovate a little bit. I think the second thing you might run into is some back burner projects that you've always said we're gonna get to those. They're going to help us with efficiency. Let's start executing momos.

[00:03:08] I think another one here is is giving people some tactics to either structuring their day. Right.

[00:03:15] So it's either helping them structure their day better so that they're utilizing their time better or it's by using your more structured feedback sessions with them that are required in this season to almost suss out hate. How are you utilizing your day? What roadblocks are you running into? Are you finding that you have more time or less time? So like what Michael said, right? Leading with questions and encouraging your team to kind of self discover whether or not they are being underutilized. Because if they don't realize it or if they're not looking for it, they're not going to ask you for additional projects to work on helping themself identify that first. But then if you find that they're being underutilized. I agree. You know, identifying projects, but then helping them figure out maybe what if my boss, Jennifer, she has worked with me and our clients as well to kind of think of this as structuring your work hours into focus. So you have time for administrative tasks. We have time for strategic tasks. You have time for innovation tasks. And then you have some some project work and some heads down work. So can you give your team some structure that they can work within? And to help them figure out how to best utilize their time, but then also continue those communication cadences to make sure they can self identify whether or not they actually do have that extra time or if they're missing things. So that would be the first thing that I would say. And then the second thing is that when people are remote, priorities are very important. And so when you are, you're communicating more. But in those communication times, you have to be even more crystal clear about your priorities. Are you aligning daily on what people need to be focusing on? Or are you whining weekly on that because weekly might be too long to wait? In this type of in this time in an office environment, you can get distracted really quickly. And so maybe you aren't as productive in short periods of time. And so people are churning through their work much faster. And so maybe you need to be aligning on priorities every single day and asking, hey, do you have enough work for today? Do you feel like you can fill your day? How did yesterday go with that? That enough work? Is there something, another gap you see that you should be filling? So I think it comes down to continuing those feedback loops and making sure that people are self identifying if they do truly have time or not. And then helping them by continuing to support those priorities.

[00:05:38] Sam, I just want to piggyback just a little bit off what you said, because I like that. And I really think the key in this new environment is, is defaulting to overcommunication if you're trying to craft the utilization code of your people. I mean, there's tactical tools like Trello and Monday dot com. You can use something like that to help make sure there's alignment on what is the body of work or completing. But like a level above that is, how are we increasing our communication during the season? I would say if you're having a utilization issue, it's really this moment of setting aligning on priorities. Most common things I'm hearing is the reality is that there are a lot of managers out there right now who have not done a great job building psychological safety with their teeth. And more than ever, they need their team to be transparent and honest about the reality that they have kids or someone in the family sick or the wife is not not active. And so it's stretching for these managers to try to align with their employees to say, tell me honestly about your situation and now knowing what is a reasonable expectation of worker. Are you and I aligned on the two most important things to get done because we're all juggling a lot of stuff and so really trying to make sure you're giving permission for those managers and. Right. Really challenging those managers to create safe environments and get the true place where the employees are, I think will help create priority alignment between that manager and the employee.

[00:07:05] At one last thing that I would add there, and have your employees earned the right for you to kind of be more hands off or have they shown you in their performance that they need a little bit more handholding during this time as they went to a remote work as you're not in the same space with them and that can feel a little bit like micromanagement. But you also have to trust your your managerial instincts and know, hey, this this employee specifically struggles with prioritization. And so I need to talk to them a little bit more than I need to talk to this other person, because I they've proven to me that they will get their work done no matter what. And I think it's a it's it's okay to give your managers permission to be a little much more involved than they may have been before, because it is it's a different world that we're living in. So that means, you know, some of those managerial practices have to be a little bit different.

[00:07:56] So we just we talked about utilization, but we had a great question. What are some of the other engagement drivers that we should be most mindful of as we are preparing and also moving into remote work? So to that I know we've already talked about is utilization as well as psychological safety. But Sam and Michael, curiousness, what are some of the other drivers you're really trying to people should be focused on right now?

[00:08:19] Yeah, we're actually already seeing some of these drivers being affected because we have customer service closing every day and several can be affected. Right. We've seen several sites. Safety kind of goes with feedback. Like suddenly you can just walk up to your manager and talk to the person. Right. So the burden is more on managers to go to people on what's going on. So I would be watching for the feedback loops if you weren't a good communicator before, or you're gonna have to stretch as a manager to make a big effort to get people. So I would be watching that one. I think capacity is going to be affected because capacity is a stress parameter and Corbett is creating stress from the homefront. And it's also creating stress on the workforce. And so I would tend to look at the groups that have the largest reductions in capacity and then look at the comments they're giving us. And then the final one is, I think a little hard is the sort of purpose, leadership, availability bucket. Again, your executives are as available as they might have been, and purpose has to do with alignment about the future. And so we need to stretch extra hard to talk about where we're going as a business, how this is affecting us, where we're going as a business, like rinse, repeat. If you're an executive, you probably are very clear on these things. No one else is clear on them. So I would be looking at those kind of areas to be affected during the Copas time and even the more remote work. That's that's that's what.

[00:09:57] The only one I would add to that is leader integrity. Authenticity is being split into leader integrity and leader availability. And so those two are very closely tied. Now, leader availability is going to probably be pretty low, but we're not going to be as worried about that because, you know, that's kind of the nature of this. You may not be as available leader. Integrity is going to be of the utmost importance. And it goes back to feedback, obviously. But leader integrity and purpose are very closely tied as well. Are you doing what you say you're going to do? Are you you know, are you going to have to make tough decisions in a few months that you told people that you were going to have to make those decisions right now? And so maybe things change. Right. But being as as upfront and honest as you can and following through on those actions, that's going to show me your integrity. And I'd be.

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